The Psychological Enslavement By Tech
I was watching an episode of Parks and Recreation on Netflix, and an annoyance that had dwindled in the back of my mind for some time finally took root to a firm thought. Social media, and media administering outlets, are incentivized to enslave your mind. Netflix defaults to queuing the next episode in a series without any intervention. By no fault of their own, and on the contrary, this was certainly a user-demanded feature. It allows an individual to continue their binge without so much as a click of the remote.
Once I realized this, other things started falling into place, making me feel increasingly more violated as social media and quick consumption entertainment embeds itself further in our minds. When was the last time you just finished checking your facebook and responding to messages, and as soon as you put your phone to sleep it buzzed with another notification from the same app you just set down. It is possible that there are algorithms programmed to wait to deliver a notification until you have closed the app and placed your phone on lock? The more time you spend on facebook, the more revenue the company gets from their advertising partners, the higher the likelihood of you clicking on one of those ads, et cetera. This is of course speculation, but if an entity has both the means and the incentive to do something that will benefit it, without the knowledge of the user, it becomes a simple ethical decision that falls on an individual, and as we know, people and corporations that are made up of them do not always act ethically.
The psychological effect of this is a passive but voluntary admission to allow your mind to be enslaved. If you can just be kept on the end of the line for longer, it means more money for those guys. Less time spent on introspection, sleeping, and creating things and making your own money. Less time making real connections and learning from experience and discussion, and more time spent on vicarious consumption of the lives of millionaires and models.
Wake up from this matrix, and realize that your average american is poor relative to 80 years ago in terms of real wealth. There are far fewer people with retirement savings, and those that do possess them have far lower balances relative to their parents and grandparents in terms of buying power. Mindless consumption often doesn't have a clear or perceivable problem. Considering only the opportunity cost of the time spent on these activities is enough to warrant a slightly conscious mind to the conclusion that their time would be better spent doing something else.
This phenomena is something I will describe as the Guitar Hero Effect (GHE). Young adults today may reflect when they see someone playing the guitar that if only they had practiced with a real instrument, in this case a guitar, instead of spending countless hours hitting only four buttons on Guitar Hero for instant gratification, what a talented player they would be. Much of the same thinking can be applied to social media. Suppose you spend two hours a day looking at your feed through Instagram or Facebook. What are you accomplishing, in terms of your social connections and advancement? Perhaps 10 years ago you could have argued that you were keeping up with old friends, connecting, and actually having meaningful communication with people in that network. Now, like the industry of fast fashion, it's all about what's happening right now. There's more connectedness than ever but it's morphed into an outlet of mindless consumption instead of a socially strengthening platform.
Consider spending two hours a day instead conversing with real people, be them friends, acquaintances, or strangers. What kind of advancements might you be able to make with discussion among all those people over a year (730 hours at 2 hours a day). What kind of insights and new information might you gain from all of those real conversations and connections? Especially so if the individual(s) you are engaged with are actively removed from their own sources of instant gratification of social media. Even when spending time with people today, you might see them on their phone upwards of 25% of the time, or more, even while they're surrounded by their best friends. Isn't that strange? The connections they maintain so tightly online they will not allow to be eroded by being present with even people that are extremely close to them, both physically and emotionally.
Disconnect from social media and mindless consumption. Take the 10 year approach instead of the 10 second approach. The results won't be apparent. But they will be insurmountable relative to the mindless zombies at the end of those 10 years.